Piracy increased on the world’s seas in 2018, with a marked rise in attacks against ships and crews around West Africa, the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) latest annual piracy report reveals.
Worldwide, the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) recorded 201 incidents of maritime piracy and armed robbery in 2018, up from 180 in 2017.
The Gulf of Guinea remains increasingly dangerous for seafarers, according to the IMB Piracy Report 2018 figures. Reports of attacks in waters between Côte d’Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of Congo more than doubled in 2018 compared with 2017. The region saw a significant new spike in violence in the last quarter of 2018. Vessels have been boarded by pirates well outside territorial waters, with crew kidnapped and taken into Nigeria where they are held for ransom.
“There is an urgent need for increased cooperation and sharing of intelligence between the Gulf of Guinea’s littoral states so that effective action can be taken against pirates, both at sea and on‐shore where their operations originate and end,” an IMB spokesman said. “There has been some improvement in the estimated number of unreported attacks in 2018 but at around 48% there is still a long way to go.”
In the last three months of 2018, 41 kidnappings were recorded in waters off Nigeria alone. On 27 October 2018, 11 crew were kidnapped from a container vessel 70 nautical miles off Bonny Island, Nigeria. Two days later, Nigerian pirates in a speedboat hijacked a tanker underway 100 nautical miles off Point Noire, Congo. Eight of the 18 crew were kidnapped. These are just two recent examples of how armed criminals are reaching further out to sea and targeting a wider variety of ships: bulk carriers, container vessels and general cargo vessels in addition to local attacks on tankers, oil industry support vessels and fishing vessels.
Global anti‐piracy support
Since 1991, IMB’s 24‐hour manned Piracy Reporting Centre has provided the maritime industry, governments and response agencies with timely and transparent data on piracy and armed robbery incidents – received directly from the Master of the vessel or its owners. The IMB PRC’s prompt forwarding of reports and liaison with response agencies, its broadcasts to shipping via Inmarsat Safety Net Services and email alerts to CSOs, all provided free of charge, has helped the response against piracy and armed robbery and the security of seafarers, globally.
The full version of the IMB Piracy Report 2018 can be requested here.